Squirrels to Bats. Irish Soda Bread to Mill Workers. Maple Harvest to Colonial Toys… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!
History ♦ Animal Studies ♦ Women’s Studies
Art/Artisan ♦ Parent Workshops
Food Science/Culinary Arts ♦ Community Service
Children in early New England had to work often to help their families survive – somehow, though, they still had time to play! Visit Historic Deerfield Saturday, March 9th to learn about and try out many Colonial-era toys often enjoyed by children in early Deerfield. Visitors can make their own toys to take home, and can even try on 18th-century clothing to see what they might have looked like as a child long ago.
Images Cinema in Williamstown hosts Fresh Fest this weekend, a film festival about food and farming. On Sunday afternoon, March 10th, their screening comes from a local filmmaker, and tells the story of a family living on a 300-acre dairy farm (now no longer operating, but still lived on!), in A Home Movie. Local director Bette Craig documented the Rhodes family of Williamstown’s history and relationship with the farm they owned – learn all about life in Williamstown past, as well as the reality of local farming by seeing the film.
Lots of influential and important people have come from the Pioneer Valley, but did you know that we wouldn’t have subways if it wasn’t for a Valley native? The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts a talk on Alfred Beach, the brains behind New York City’s first subway on Monday evening, March 11th. The discussion will explore the story behind the big idea, and Beach’s connection to the area. The event is part of the museum’s lecture series, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Transportation in the Pioneer Valley.
Explore Steepletop in New Marlborough on Saturday morning, March 9th with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and learn all about animal tracking! Participants in this free adventure will learn how to tell the difference between fisher, porcupines, and bobcats tracks, as well as tips for finding sites of animal tracks or other signs.
Families can learn all about bird banding on Saturday morning at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox. There will be banding demonstrations going on throughout the morning show the proper use of mist nets – used to catch birds for banding – as well as the proper handling of small birds. Before visiting, do a family study of the scientific purpose of bird banding – you’ll appreciate the demonstrations even more!
Why do squirrels run around the way that they do, darting across yards and running halfway up (and then back down) tree trunks? Find out on Saturday morning at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst. Hampshire College professor Sarah Partan will teach visitors about the meaning behind squirrel behavior – there’s more to it than you would think!
On Saturday afternoon, Images Cinema in Williamstown screens, More Than Honey, a film about the major declines in bee populations in recent history. As part of Fresh Fest, the film examines the role of the honey bee, and looks to locations worldwide to explain its importance and the issues we face relating to bees. Local honey tasting to follow.
Family volunteers wanted for Salamander Tunnel Maintenance Day in Amherst on Saturday, March 9th from 1-3pm. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment will be cleaning Salamander tunnels and drift fences on Henry Street. Volunteers will be raking leaves, shoveling sand and debris, clipping brush, repairing plastic mesh fences, pounding in wooden stakes, and picking up litter and will have some tools and gloves available for families to help out (but please bring your own if you have them.). All ages are welcome!
Meet some real-life bats on Sunday afternoon, March 10th at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. The museum is currently hosting an exhibit all about bats, which features specimens of actual bats, but no live bats. However, on Sunday live fruit bats, a big brown bat, and a Malayan flying fox will all pay a visit to the museum! Families can learn all about what bats eat, where they live, and the fragility of their populations before meeting the live bats.
The Hitchcock Center in Amherst is hosting a special Homeschool Discovery Day on Tuesday morning, March 12th. Participating nature scholars will learn about species of frogs and salamanders found locally and will pay a visit to the center’s vernal pool to learn about amphibian habitat. If the weather is good, there will be a trip to North Amherst to learn about the salamander tunnels and perhaps do some tunnel maintenance.
Meekins Library screens, My Business is to Sing, a new documentary on the life of legendary poet, Emily Dickinson, on Tuesday evening, March 12th in Williamsburg. The third in the Angles of a Landscape series, the film focuses on how popular music styles during Dickinson’s life influenced her work. Narrator Susan Snively and filmmaker Ernest Urvater will hold a free discussion after the film, where viewers can learn about their process in creating it and some other interesting history behind the film.
The Industrial Revolution offered work opportunities to numerous immigrant groups during the 19th century – and Massachusetts’ many mills drew lots of new workers to the state. Learn about Irish culture and women’s work in mills today at the Springfield Museums on Thursday afternoon, March 14th. Professional storyteller Sharon Kennedy will share the tale of Mary Margaret O’Connell, a Lowell mill worker.. Older students learning about American history, immigration and/or women’s history can supplement their studies by attending the lecture.
On Thursday evening, March 14th, the Greenfield Garden Cinemas screens, Girl Rising, which tells the story of nine girls from all over the world who face immense obstacles in obtaining their education. Narrated by famous actresses, the film beautifully tells the story of each girl’s struggle. The film is a great way to teach girls about women’s rights and empowerment, as well as the many issues women face globally.
How can you identify a tree without seeing its leaves? By its bark, of course! Learn all about bark identification with Nancy Goodman of the Hitchcock Center at Mt. Norwottuck in Amherst on Sunday afternoon, March 10th. Identification skills can help families to navigate the woods and learn more about their surroundings.
Join author Michael Wojtech at Northfield Mountain for an evening of tree-identification on Wednesday evening, March 13th. Teens (ages 12+) and parents will learn about identifying trees using only their bark – making identification much easier during months when buds and leaves aren’t present. There will be a slideshow as well as hands-on activities – great for budding naturalists!
Kids ages 6-10 can visit The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Arts on Saturday morning, March 9th in Amherst to make their very own picture books! They’ll learn about the creative process in regards to both art and writing, and will learn how to create and execute an idea for a fantastic children’s book.
The Clark in Williamstown hosts Start With Art on Saturday morning, a special class for kids ages 3-6 that will introduce them to some basic ideas in art-making and art viewing. There will be a short gallery talk focused on the use of colors and shapes, followed by some time to make your own masterpiece.
The Deerfield Spring Sampler happens all weekend, March 9th-10th – part of the annual series of craft fairs held by Old Deerfield Craft Fairs – at the Big E in West Springfield! Visit the craft show to see a wide variety of beautiful and unique work by local artists and artisans. Workshop and demonstrations being offered include Ukrainian Egg Workshop, Lace Making demonstration, and pastry arts.
We all know that vegetables are healthy for us, but do you know the true nutritional value of garden-grown veggies? The Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge is offering a workshop on Saturday morning, March 9th with Dr. Marie Mammone on the health benefits of cooking with fresh veggies, herbs, and flowers – Parents can learn who to provide better nutrition to their family.
Pittsfield Public Schools host a free workshop on using active parenting with teens on Tuesday evening, March 12th at Reid Middle School. Learn strategies to help navigate the challenges of parenting older children.
“Positive Discipline that Works.” Learn about strategies for positive discipline on Tuesday evening with Scott Noyes at Community Health Programs in Great Barrington. This free workshop will teach parents ways to teach kids about good behavior, rather than consistently providing negative feedback to poor behavior.
Learn to cook in the kitchen at Chandler’s Restaurant in Deerfield on Saturday morning, March 9th. Kids can learn to make Irish Soda bread, and will get to practice basic kitchen skills and learn about all of the necessary ingredients while they bake.
It’s officially maple season, what with the warmer weather and gradual snow melting. Celebrate at MapleFest at the Hopkins State Forest on Saturday in Williamstown. The annual free event is a chance to not only celebrate the delicious locally-harvested sweet treat that is maple syrup, but is also a chance for families to learn about the entire process, from sap and tap to bottles in the grocery store. Visit a working sugarhouse to see the evaporation process, and then see demonstrations of techniques used throughout history to produce syrup. The most adventurous of families can even lend a hand in the harvesting process.
Storrowton Village in West Springfield celebrates the sweet New England tradition on Sunday, March 10th with Maple Harvest Day, a free family event. Families can visit the village to learn all about how maple sugaring was done during the earliest days of New England. The historic village will be bustling with maple-related activity, including demonstrations, tastings, and more. There will also be chances to learn about spinning and weaving, open hearth cooking, and other daily tasks of early settlers.
Find out about these events and over 170 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events.